Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Brand Update : Kara Skincare fights the mighty Hand Kerchief

After a long period of silence, the tissue wipes brand Kara from Aditya Birla Group is back in action. Launched in 2008 with much fanfare, the brand went into a long silence throughout 2010. The product was not even visible in the supermarkets and were silent across media. Now the brand is back with a bang with a new positioning and celebrity power. The brand also had a trademark issues with Dabur's Kaya brand since Kaya also had tissue wipes which was later settled ( source). 
Skincare Wipes are an emerging category in India. We Indians are not yet familiar with the idea of using paper tissue instead of our very own hand kerchief. But this trend is visibly changing with the new generation being open to the idea of carrying tissue instead of the hanky. This is the trend that Kara wanted to see and capitalize.
It can be said that the brand went in for a relaunch. The brand sports a new positioning and a tagline. The new positioning of Kara is very interesting since it pitches itself as an alternative to the ubiquitous hand kerchief. The brand also have roped in two celebrities to endorse - Sharman Joshi and Anushka Sharma.

The brand had moved away from the earlier positioning of " feel good " to hygiene. This is a major shift in the positioning platform of this brand. For that purpose, the brand had pitted against hand kerchief saying that using hand kerchief to wipe the face is a " bad habit " since we use hanky for lot of unhygienic purposes (as highlighted by the ads) .
The ad features these celebrities  highlighting the unhygienic nature of the hanky and encouraging people to use Kara Skincare wipes. The brand is talking about three basic benefits - Cleansing, Nourishing and Deodorizing. Kara Skincare has Cucumber, Aloe Vera and Mint oil  as ingredients to support the claim.

Watch the ads here : Sharman Kara 1, Sharman Kara 2 , Anushka 1 , Anushka 2

The current attempt of Kara is interesting and the brand has the guts to take on the generic competitor hanky head-on. The fact is that many consumers are unaware of the unhygienic nature of hanky and we believe that since it is washed daily , hygiene is taken care of. The ads highlight is issue nicely. The brand currently has adopted the tagline " Face Refresh Karne Ka Specialist "  ( Specialist for refreshing your face !).

The big question is whether the consumers will actually see the tissue wipes as an alternative to hanky - atleast for the use of  wiping the face. The answer is both yes and no. There is a section of our society which already is open to such extra-conscious about the hygiene. Most of the young girls have started using wipes because of convenience factor. These people will adopt the idea first and then there is a chance of more consumers adopting this product.
The brand had earlier tried to position itself  on the feeling good platform highlighting the benefits but consumers did not respond warmly to it. This may have prompted the brand to take an aggressive approach. The direct comparison with hand kerchief will definitely make consumer look at this brand seriously.

Another interesting aspect of Kara's strategy is its focus on both the genders. When launched, Kara was focusing on female segment but now it is explicitly targeting the male segment through Sharman Joshi. The brand also is not projecting itself as a hip-hop brand so that it does not alienate the larger segment of the society . So the brand had put the characters of the ads as common folks .

The strategy of fighting head-on with generic competition is a very risky but bold strategy. Here the brand is trying to create a parity with the hanky . The rationale is that Tissue Wipes is a new category and brand and category competition is not what should be addressed at this stage.
Making this category into a mainstream is the challenge that Kara faces and it has done the homework well.

Related brand
Kara Skincare wipes